Breeds of Swine: Berkshire

Breeds of Swine: Berkshire

By Abigail Wehrbein

There is one last breed I want everyone to know about because it affects consumers the most. The Berkshire breed hasn’t been around for as long as the others but with it’s muscle characteristics, it’s sure to be a very popular breed in the future.

The Berkshire pig is all black with white tips on their feet, tail and snout. It’s known to be a medium framed pig with shorter legs and snout with erect ears. The most outstanding feature of the Berkshire pig is it’s high quality of meat. In the swine industry, Berkshire breed is the only genetic source that has a value-based premium. This means that there is a high demand for this meat product for a good price. Berkshire pork has been scientifically proven to have better color, texture, marbling, ultimate pH, and water holding capacity which contribute to better eating quality.

When comparing this breed to the Yorkshire, it would not be a good production breed. Sows cannot possess large amounts of muscle. They will have difficulty farrowing resulting in lost piglets, more work for the producer and potentially a lost sow. If bred to a Berkshire, the chance of passing on a greater amount of muscle is very high depending on the sow. This will result in this breed having some of the lowest maternal traits. They have a medium frame size, which doesn’t allow them to carry large, heavier litters. Numbers have shown that they have the lowest number of litters and litter size at birth. However, Berkshires do carry a heavier birth weight than Yorkshire and are known for giving a high milk production.

Like stated above, the Berkshire breed is often known by the amount of high quality meat. They are not known as the production breed like the Yorkshire and Duroc with having lower numbers from the farrowing perspective. They do advocate this breed more to the smaller-scale producers because of the high meat quality, contributing to higher market prices.


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